-Liberty Party Asks Supreme Court for Rerun Election
The November 7 runoff election is on the verge of being halted by the Supreme Court if the opposition Liberty Party’s protest that the October 10 presidential and legislative elections were characterized by “gross irregularities and fraud” and therefore undermined the integrity of the electoral process, holds true.
The LP on Friday, October 27 asked the Supreme Court to place a stay order on all electoral activities, including the runoff presidential, pending the outcome of its complaint that is before the National Elections Commission (NEC) for determination.
The court is yet to say whether or not it would issue the order preventing the NEC from conducting electoral activities for the November 7 run-off.
Liberty Party in its request for a ‘Writ of Prohibition’ to the Supreme Court, argued that since it filed a complaint to the NEC against alleged malpractices, the electoral body has deliberately refused to look into the matter, but was instead only concerned with preparation for the November 7 run-off, which they believe runs contrary to the constitution and election laws.
A ‘Writ of Prohibition’ is an order directed to the judge and parties of a suit in a lower court, ordering the court not to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case. It arrests the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, or person when such proceedings are without or in excess of the jurisdiction of such a tribunal, corporation, board, or person.
The writ may be issued when an inferior court is acting outside the normal rules and procedures in the examination of a case or headed towards defeating a legal right.
“The fraud and gross irregularities throughout the electoral process warrant a rerun of the elections,” the LP alleged.
The document called for “The results of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections be annulled and a rerun be ordered in order to ensure that fair and transparent elections are held in accordance with the constitution, election and other laws of Liberia.”
In their argument, the LP said, Article 77 (b) and 80 (c) of the Constitution, Section 4.8(a) of the enabling elections law, and Article 6 of the Regulation on Polling and Counting “provide that voting shall commence at 8 am and close at 6 pm, provided that the last person in queue at 6 pm, shall be permitted to vote.”
“The NEC failed to adhere to the said regulation and in many instances, the polls were opened late and in some cases, as late as 3 pm clearly to the detriment of the registered voters – many of them were members of the LP, who had shown up to exercise their constitutional right and political franchise,” the LP alleged.
According to the LP, the consequences of the late opening of the polls by the NEC was that most voters especially the elderly and disabled, having stood in line for hours, were effectively deprived of their constitutional right to vote and were constrained to leave the polling places, “believing that such a polling place will not be open or that the location had been changed.”
Outlining some of the frauds in their request, the LP claimed that after voting ended at Precinct # 30073 at the Barnersville Public School and at Polling Place # 3 in Montserrado County the ballot box was sealed with the following numbers “(a) Pre-046330, front (b) Pre – 046324 – right (c) Pre-046335 – left” and party representatives left the polling place.
Unfortunately, the LP argued, “our poll watcher returned to the polling place only to find the presiding officer’s hand in the ballot box, having broken the seal.”
It added, “The numbers of the second set of seals that were placed on the ballot box are (a) Pre-046324, (b) Pre-027338 (c) Pre-027323, and (d) Pre-046336.”
“NEC’s polling officer Josephus Cooper of Electoral District #3 in Nimba County was arrested with pre-marked ballots in his possession, some of which he had already deposited in the ballot box,” the LP explained.
In Zota, Polling Place # 3, Precinct Code # 06102, Shankpallai Town, District # 4, Bong County following the close of the polls and counting on Wednesday morning October 11, it was noticed that the NEC presiding officer, Joseph Karlon, was carrying a presidential ballot box on a bike; when confronted and interviewed, the officer stated that the ballot box was left behind and that he had gone alone, unaccompanied by a police officer, to pick it up.
At the Coalition Center at the SKD Complex, the LP again alleged that “it was also observed that in Precinct # 30171, Polling Place # 3 District 12, Montserrado County, Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine obtained 205 votes, regrettably, the presiding officer, elected to cancel same and allotted 26 votes.”
Also, “In Margibi County, Dwazon, District # 1 voting Precinct # 24105, Polling Place # 4, the presidential record of the count shows that there were 2,550 as a total of unused, spoiled and discarded ballot papers, although there should not have been more than 550 ballots at any polling place.”
These are some of the evidence the LP is relying on to convince the Supreme Court to call for an immediate rerun of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections.